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Fifteen people die in taxi crash

One of the taxis that was involved in a collision that claimed 15 lives in the Free State.
One of the taxis that was involved in a collision that claimed 15 lives in the Free State.

One of the survivors of a taxi accident that claimed 15 lives in the Free State at the weekend says it is a miracle he escaped with only minor injuries.

Taxi driver Thabiso Phiri, 35, from Lesotho, cheated death when his vehicle avoided a head-on collision with a red BMW on the R26 near Bethlehem.

The BMW hit the side of his taxi before colliding head on with a Quantum minibus taxi behind him. The taxi caught fire, killing 13 passengers. Two others were injured and airlifted to hospital. The driver of the BMW was also killed, according to Free State department of health, while a passenger in Phiri's taxi died in hospital.

Both taxis were headed to Johannesburg. "I was driving with 10 passengers towards a sharp curve on the road on the R26 from Fouriesburg headed to Bethlehem when a red BMW vehicle came straight to us," he recalled.

"I managed to avoid him but unfortunately he crashed into my vehicle on the side and collided head-on with the Quantum behind me. It rolled several times and burst into flames," Phiri said.

He said though a few passengers managed to get out, others were not as lucky.

Phiri said he and his passengers tried to rescue the passengers in the other taxi, but it was too late. "The flames were wild and it was a heart-breaking moment to watch people burn inside the vehicle," he said, adding he still had nightmares about the accident.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Sam Makhele said a case of culpable homicide had been opened by the police.

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